« AnteriorContinuar »
ony, lignum vitæ, Cuban cedar, Cuban mahogany, the acana, jiqui, cottonwood, logwood, rosewood, and the odd jagüey, are all indigenous. Among the economic fruit and vegetable products may be mentioned the banana, cocoanut, pineapple, orange, lemon, lime, fig, date, tamarind, mango, guava, zabote, pomegranate, anona, melon, bean, cassava, and sweet potato.
miles, and it has an area of 45,881 square miles, including its small islands and the Isle of Pines. TOPOGRAPHY. The coast of Cuba is exceedingly broken, being indented by numerous gulfs or bays. The chief of these on the south coast, commencing at the west, are the following: Corrientes, Cortez, Matamana, Cazones, and Guacanabo. There are many fine harbors, with narrow, tortuous entrances opening within into broad expanses—as at Havana. The north coast is in great part bordered by coral islands or reefs, which stretch from Nuevitas to Cardenas, and render approach to this part of the coast extremely difficult and dangerous. On the south is the large Isle of Pines (Isla de Pinos), with many small islets associated with it, and, further eastward, a group of many islets, known as the Jardines de la Reina.
The western part of Cuba is traversed by a mountain range, Sierra de los Orgaños, 2500 feet high. The celebrated tobacco region, Vuelta Abajo, is on its south slope. The middle part of the island has an undulating surface, broken only here and there by hills, such as the group near Trinidad, on the south coast. The land rises eastward, and the eastern province, Santiago, consists in the main of an elevated plateau, 1000 to 2000 feet high, deeply scored by streams. Along the south coast of this province, stretching from Cape Cruz eastward, is the Sierra Maestra, much the highest land of the island, its highest peak, Turquino, being 8320 fee in height. Much of the coast west of Cape Cruz is low and marshy. The great Zapota swamp borders this coast. The rivers are numerous, but short, and in general unfitted for navigation; the river Cauto, in the southeastern part, is about 150 miles in length, and is navigable for a distance of 50 miles to Cauto Embarcadero.
CLIMATE. The climate of Cuba on the coast is extremely equable, but less so inland. The average temperatures for January vary from 72° F. at the north, to 75° F. at the south, and the July temperatures average about 82° F.; the coast temperatures seldom exceed 90° F. in summer, nor go below 65° F. in winter. In the mountain regions, however, the temperature goes lower than 50°. The rainfall is excessive in the northeastern section, reaching over 100 inches in some places; at Havana it is over 50 inches; the southern coast region has, however, much less rainfall. The chief rainy season is in summer, but rain falls throughout the year. The prevailing winds are the Trades, from the northeast. Cuba lies within the path of the West Indian hurricanes, which are liable to occur during August, September, and October. The unhealthful conditions formerly prevalent were due to the absence of sanitary precautions. Yellow fever was an annual epidemic. Since 1901, however, the energetic administration by the military authorities, and of the succeeding National Government, of the sanitary measures recommended by a commission of American scientists, has resulted in yellow fever being confined to a few isolated cases. See HAVANA; YELLOW FEVER.
FLORA. The vegetation of Cuba is tropical in its species and luxuriance, although, strangely enough, trees usually found only in colder climates are also found even in the Cuban lowlands. Thus, the pine grows side by side with the mahogany tree. Palms are plentiful. The majuga, and the granadillo, the baria, Cuban eb
FAUNA. The fauna of Cuba includes rabbits, the hutia (q.v.), and bats; the domestic hog, dog, and cat (which have run wild and become very numerous); over 200 species of birds, including scavenger buzzards and vultures, grouse, quail, snipe, and wild turkeys; alligators, chameleons, iguanas, small lizards, and tree-toads. Few species of snakes are found, although some, like the maja, grow to large size (16 to 18 feet). The landcrabs, which move over the country in countless numbers, and grow in size up to eight inches in diameter, are very annoying, as are also the flying cockroaches. Scorpions, centipedes, and tarantulas are plentiful. Insects are numerous in species and limitless in numbers; among these are ants, beautiful fireflies, and what has been described as the 'worst pest on the island,' the nigua or jigger. Nearly 650 species of fish have been found in Cuban waters, among which are large sharks, the giant aguja (weighing sometimes 500 pounds), the snoring ronco, gallego, garfish, and the parego or red snapper. The porpoise and manatee are also found in numbers in the coast waters.
GEOLOGY. Cuba was largely formed in late Tertiary times. The rocks composing it are mainly recent stratified deposits. There are irregular areas of granite, serpentine, and eruptive rocks near the middle of the island, surrounded by Tertiary beds extending over most of the island to the coast. The Sierra de los Orgaños is composed mainly of Triassic sandstones, and the Sierra Maestra of Cretaceous and Tertiary beds.
MINERAL RESOURCES. The mineral deposits of Cuba are confined chiefly to the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, and are exploited almost exclusively by American companies. The chief mineral, iron, was first worked on a large scale in 1884, and the output has since then grown at a steady rate, increasing from 23,977 tons in 1884 to about 600,000 tons annually at present. The total production of iron ore until 1904 amounted to about 4,000,000 tons, almost all of it going to the United States. The ore is of good quality and especially adapted for the manufacturing of Bessemer steel. In the last war with Spain, the mining industry, like all economic activities of the island, suffered greatly, in some of the mines work being completely suspended. Another mineral product of importance is manganese, which is also found in the Province of Santiago de Cuba and exported to the United States. Copper was mined in Cuba as early as the sixteenth century in the Sierra del Cobre, Santiago de Cuba; and prior to the discovery of copper in the United States the latter imported most of the copper for its domestic use from Cuba. Owing to unfavorable circumstances copper mining ceased in 1869, not to be resumed until after the expulsion of Spain. In 1904 the iron production amounted to $1,146,000, manganese to $163,000, copper to $13,000, and asphalt to $123,000. In general, the mining industries of the island are little developed.
AGRICULTURE. Owing to its climate and soil, Cuba is exceptionally well adapted for agriculture, but long years of political oppression and unfavorable labor conditions, combined somewhat with the indisposition for work inherent in the natives, have retarded the agricultural develop ment of the island. Prior to the late war the number of farms was estimated at over 90,000, valued at nearly $200,000,000. But the war, with the reconcentrado policy, caused a great destruction of farms and live stock. Thus the census of 1899 gives the number of farms at 60,711, with a total area of 8,542,000 acres, of which, however, only a little over one-tenth was under cultivation. The holdings of less than eight acres (4 cabelleria) constitute about 63 per cent. of the total number of holdings, while they contain 15.5 per cent. of the cultivated area; those of between eight and sixteen acres comprise about 19 per cent. holdings, and 12.5 per cent. of the cultivated area; while those above thirty-two acres constitute only 7 per cent. of the number of holdings, but 59 per cent. of the area. Out of the 50,000 farms of less than sixteen acres, about 24,000 are occupied by white renters, 10,300 by colored renters; 9600 are occupied by white owners, 2800 by colored. The ownership of colored inhabitants is confined largely to the smaller farms.
the island; the province of Havana yields about 25 per cent., Santa Clara producing the bulk of the remainder. At the outbreak of the late war, the normal annual output was over 62,000,000 pounds, but in 1896-97 the amount had dwindled to about 41,000,000 pounds; in 1897-98 to 9,680,000 pounds; in 1898-99, however, it rose to 24,400,000 pounds, and in 1904-5 it reached about 45,700,000 pounds. The condition of the tobacco industry is, on the whole, more hopeful than that of sugar, because it suffers less from competition and because the raw tobacco, although the tariff is high on the finished product, such as cigars, is admitted to the market of the United States with only a slight import duty. It covers about one-tenth of the cultivated area.
Other Agricultural Products.-Corn, or maize, is grown all over the island and is used extensively for the feeding of domestic animals. Rice is also cultivated, but the harvest goes entirely to satisfy the domestic demand. Wheat, barley, and oats are little cultivated, and it is doubtful whether the output of wheat will ever meet the home demand. Sweet potatoes are raised almost everywhere and form a very important food article. The natural conditions are exceedingly favorable for the cultivation of fruit. The banana is grown in enormous quantities, and besides being extensively exported to the United States, figures very prominently in the diet of the poorer classes. Coffee, once an important product, is now in a state of decline and the output is barely sufficient for home consumption. Pineapples, oranges, cocoanuts, limes, lemons, and numerous other southern fruits grow in abundance, but thus far very little has been done by the natives toward their systematic cultivation, the fruit interests being in the main in the hands of foreign (chiefly American) companies.
Sugar.-Sugar was one of the earliest products of the island. Cane is supposed to have been introduced in 1523, but its cultivation for three centuries was insignificant. The annual output prior to the opening of the nineteenth century averaged about 28,000 tons, which was increased by the end of the first half of the century to about 250,000. During the latter half of the nineteenth century also the tendency was upward, although the industry was greatly handicapped by frequent internal disturbances and by the low price of sugar, brought about largely by the competition of beet-sugar. In 1853 the output of the island was 322,000 tons; in 1870 it had increased to 726,000. Twenty years later the amount had fallen to 632,368 tons; but in 1894 there were produced 1,054,214 tons, or nearly 50 per cent. of the world's output of cane-sugar. Even in 1895, the first year of the Cuban war, the output exceeded 1,000,000 tons; but in the following year it fell to 225,221, with a further decrease in 1897 of 13,221 tons. Since the Spanish American War the figures have grown to 335,668 tons in 1899, 300,073 tons in 1900, and 1,132,482 tons in 1906. The cultivation of sugar requires a large outlay of capital. The successful colonia, or sugar plantation, generally contains several thousands of acres, several miles of private railway for transporting the cane to the mills, numerous buildings and costly plants of machinery for the manufacture of the sugar, besides buildings for the housing of a thousand or more employees. The cane, which requires replanting but once in seven years, is chiefly grown on elevated land, no fertilizer being required. About one-half the cultivated land is given over to sugar. Tobacco. Next to sugar, tobacco is the most important agricultural product of the island. The cultivation of that plant in Cuba dates from about 1580, when was introduced into the district of Vuelta Abajo, in the Province of Pinar del Rio, which has since been famous for the quality of its tobacco. The output of the province is nearly 70 per cent. of the entire crop of
The forests of Cuba are supposed to occupy about 50 per cent. of the total area of the island. Besides the valuable mahogany and cedar woods which find their way to foreign markets, there are about thirty species of the palm, of which the royal palm is probably the most useful tree on the island, every part of it from the leaves and fibre to the roots being utilized by the natives. Of the forest area the State owns 1,250,000 acres.
The natural conditions for the raising of live stock are very favorable, and at one time this branch of agriculture was in a high state of development. During the decades preceding the late war, however, the supply was far short of the natural demand, and most of the animals necessary for agricultural purposes and slaughtering had to be imported. In 1894 the live stock of the island numbered 584,725 horses, 2,485,766 cattle, 570,194 hogs, and 78,494 sheep, with a total value of over $101,000,000. The effect of the late war on the live stock of the island may be seen from the census figures of 1899, which give the number of horses at 88,000; cattle, 376,650; hogs, 358,868; and sheep, 9982. In January, 1902, there were 805,000 cattle, 137,000 horses, and 25,700 mules. At the beginning of 1905 there were 1,703,000 head of cattle, the increase being due chiefly to importation. MANUFACTURES. The manufacturing industries of Cuba are confined to the production of sugar, and of cigars and cigarettes-both industries closely connected with agriculture. In fact, the first is so intimately connected with the